I’m Loving It: Dutch Court Rules Against McDonald’s For Firing Employee Over Slice of Cheese

A Dutch court has ruled against McDonald’s and found that the company was wrong to fire an employee who simply gave a colleague an extra piece cheese on her hamburger. She had paid for a hamburger and McDonald’s viewed the gesture as a violation of company policy against gifts.

The court noted that it might have been a bit more appropriate to simply give the employee a reprimand rather than a termination. Now, the company will pay 4,265.47 euros for lost wages. That’s a lot cheese. In addition, the company will pay court costs.

The question is why the supervisor was not fired. Not only did he or she succeed in losing thousands of dollars over a slice of cheese, but created an international flood of bad press for McDonald’s.

For the full story, click here.

61 thoughts on “I’m Loving It: Dutch Court Rules Against McDonald’s For Firing Employee Over Slice of Cheese”

  1. Duh

    Blouise,

    “It’ll be a faux pax, of course, but I’m known for doing that sort of thing and I’m always invited back so ……”

    Yes. Lightining rods are always a good idea. :>)

    ===========================================================

    … yeah, except here they call one who takes pleasure in committing conversational faux pax’s … a fire cracker.

  2. my first job while in high school was working at a mcdonalds. they liked to do random lie-detector tests. even if you hadn’t stolen anything (i.e. eaten without paying for it) they would ask if you had seen anyone else do it. i declined to answer that question. they declined to have me work there anymore. that was in 1977, and i’ve never eaten a big mac since.

  3. Blouise,

    “It’ll be a faux pax, of course, but I’m known for doing that sort of thing and I’m always invited back so ……”

    Yes. Lightining rods are always a good idea. :>)

  4. I have had second thoughts about requesting an extra slice of cheese as an unintended consequence could be some kid losing his/her job.

    So instead … I’m going to a dinner party in 2 weeks and two of the guests are partners in the group that hold our local McDonalds franchise. I’ll ask them what their policy is concerning requests for extras. It’ll be a faux pax, of course, but I’m known for doing that sort of thing and I’m always invited back so ……

  5. lottakatz,

    I have three adopted children, now full grown and giving me grandkids so I’m too old to adopt you as a my child but would happily give you grandchild status. What kind of toys do you like … puzzles and construction, adventure and mystery, or dolls and fashion?

  6. lottakatz,

    Yes. I’ve been to the Soulard Market many times. It’s one of the few places to get pork boudin. I love cajun hot. It’s the kind of hot that only sticks around until you swallow; unlike Mexican hot. They also have great cherry smoked bacon. I get the lady to select the leanest she can find. When cooked, it remains almost the same size. Really good stuff. They also has competition on the fruit and veggie end. I usually go around noon on Saturday. The vendors reduce their prices on perishables around that time.

    If it’s cool out, I put my items in a cooler in the car, and go for a beer or two. Soulard is a fun area. But be aware, “flashing” New Orleans style, takes place on occasion. I took my father with me one time, and I thought he was gonna loose it. :>)

    I don’t know of any place around Arnold. I’ll check with a few friends that live in that area, and it’s an area that has really grown in the last decade. Maybe someone has started something. I do know that you can get some good homegrown produce on the roadside during the summer.

  7. Thanks Duh, I love Soulard market and visited often when I lived in the city- have you been? I need to find (Google)something a bit more close to me, down Arnold way and print out a map. I generally limit my excursions out to 2 1/2 hours or less due to health problems so I try to find what I need close to home. Soulard is a fun way to spend part of an afternoon.

  8. Pinandpuller, I should have said ‘I don’t trust factory farmed meat anymore’. Or the state of meat processing either.

    You were eating ‘real’ meat as I did on occasion when I visited relatives that had their own livestock, home-churned butter and all those things that went with family (subsistence) farming.

    Even living in a city I remember, vividly, when I was fairly young my dad, uncle and grandfather would drive out to ‘the country’ once a year to a farm, picking out a hog and having it butchered. They would keep it’s head to make ‘head-cheese’ from and bring home the drained blood to make blood-sausage with; two items I have never eaten.

    I envy you your brush-clearing critters, I liked most of the farm animals I lived with in my youthful summers and always thought it would be nice to have a few around; goat milk and fresh eggs are good eats.

  9. lottakatz

    When I lived on my dad’s farm I raised hogs. A guy from a meat-processing plant would drive his truck out (with crane) and butcher them on the spot.

    Later on when I had my own land I raised a couple of sets and found out the worst thing in the world is trying to load hogs in a horse-trailer.

    I kept sheep and goats too but not really to eat-more to keep pasture and brush down. I did buy a wether from someone else and butcher it though. It was excellent although I probably kept it up a little long. I’m about half Scottish so I only ate the meat.

  10. Blouise, Queen of Sheba, Swarthmore Mom,

    Your buying and eating habits sound healthy and delicious. Will one of you adopt me? I don’t know of a farmers market close to me but I spend most of my time at the grocery store in the produce section and try to grow tomato’s and herbs in my yard- generally with success.

    I stay away from meat generally (for about the last 10 years+) but there are days when only bacon or a pork roast will do. I’m not Vegan but I just don’t trust meat anymore.

  11. Pinandpuller: “I thought the CEO of McDonalds was on the record as saying that he eats at least one meal a day at McDonalds. Can’t we just grant that his salary is hazard pay?”

    LOL, It ought to be because if he’s telling the truth you know it’s taking years off his life unless he eats only their salads.

    Would not sell you a slice of cheese? That’s cold.

  12. lOTTAKATZ and Swarthmore Mom:

    I shop a local butcher who uses locally grown beef, pork, poultry, (his fresh turkeys are fantastic)etc. and use local produce because these products are free from all the crap and the taste is superb. (fresh eggs, no more than one day old, are pure heaven) I also use a food co-op for certain items. I have a local fish monger that I use regularly but even then seafood can be a problem and should be dealt with via careful purchasing.

    Knowing how to properly preserve food during its growing season (canning, freezing etc.) also goes a long way in keeping the larder well stocked.

    I haven’t eaten anything from a fast food joint in years mainly because the taste is so mediocre and the stuff just sits in my stomach like a lump of concrete. Restaurant chains are also suspect so we patronize locally owned ones that we know use the best and freshest products. How do we know? The taste baby, the taste.

  13. Mike Appleton at 8:13 pm
    “That argument makes sense, but it makes sense only if we accept the premise that the size of a company in and of itself is sufficient justification for adopting policies that treat all instances of employee misconduct as equally reprehensible and that ignore the nuances of individual behavior.” … The judicial counterpart is the legislative creation of mandatory sentencing rules. The growing complexities of society make us all fearful of entrusting those in authority with the right to make wise decisions. So we adopt the opposite approach and eliminate humanity from the decision-making process. Are we happy yet?”

    Sorry I didn’t address your thoughtful posting earlier but the SotU and it’s subsequent dissection came on TV and I became diverted.

    You make an excellent comparison regarding mandatory sentencing. As I’m sure you know that approach has proved so repugnant to Judges that some senior Judges (Judges with the authority/seniority to get away with it) simply refuse to hear drug cases.

    One of the things that I learned very early on regarding contract policing was that a contract, no matter how well constructed and detailed, was only as good as the parties implementing it. If you had people of good character and reasonable intelligence you wouldn’t have very many problems. If you didn’t, every day would be a battle.

  14. Queen of Sheba, “…If employees don’t eat at McDonald’s are they paid real money commisurate with the value of the benefit that the ones who eat at the restaurant are given?”

    If she didn’t want to eat on site the manager never handed her a $5.00 bill to eat elsewhere because I asked her about it.

  15. I thought the CEO of McDonalds was on the record as saying that he eats at least one meal a day at McDonalds. Can’t we just grant that his salary is hazard pay?

    When I was a teenager on a church trip we went to eat at Wendy’s. My main stash of money was in the trailer and all I had on me was a dollar so I tried to buy a piece of cheese. It was listed on the menu-15 cents. They wouldn’t sell it to me. I ate a bunch of free crackers instead.

  16. Queen of Sheba said;

    “How much do you think that extra piece of cheese was worth? As much as a ball point pen or a handful of paper clips which are “stolen” by employees in every company every day?”

    The value of the goods is not the question. This would be considered a misdemeaner crime in every jurisdiction I know. You might not be able to get a prosecutor to take action, but it is a crime nonetheless. I know this was the decision of a foreign court, but such a mandate is a slap in the face to property rights, and sends a message that there is no consequence for doing so. As I stated earlier, this person had a contract with McDonalds. That isn’t something that I have ever seen in the
    U.S. That may have had direct bearing on the court’s decision. (No. I’m not going to find and translate the Dutch court’s decision.)

    “I have never heard of an employee being fired for taking home such items.”

    Neither have I, but I wouldn’t expect someone who was fired for stealing to be honest enough to pass that along. Stealing is stealing, and most good people don’t like to be associated with theives. In addition, a petty theft from an employer, that resulted in an employee termination, isn’t likely to make the evening news. I’ll bet that employees are fired for petty theft every day.

    “A wiser course of action would have been for the McDonald’s manager just to have had the employee pay for the cheese and possibly put a written reprimand in his employee file.”

    I’ll leave that decision to the manager. The stolen cheese could have just been the proverbial straw that broke the camels back.

    Petty theft by employees is a lot like having mice. Chances are high that if you see one, there are many more. I don’t like to attribute ‘the likelihood’ of previous violations, or ‘the likelihood’ of future violations, but we all know the chances are pretty high.

    If I have to chose sides, I’m going to side with the employer. The employer gave this person a job. It was the employee that put his or her job in jeopardy. If the employee didn’t consider this to be theft, he or she learned a valuable lesson the hard way, but a valuable lesson nonetheless.

    I’ll have empathy for the person that steals to feed their family. I feel for the person that works 80 hours a week to provide warm shelter for their family. I’ll do what I can to help those who need help. BUT I won’t feel to sorry for the person who lost their job, just so they could benefit their buddy with a free piece of cheese.

  17. lottakatz
    “I had a friend that worked for McDonalds a few years (3) ago and they were getting free lunches subject to a maximum $ value. It may be a ‘benefit’ subject to local managerial decisions though.” I wonder – are such “benefits” reported by the employers as income, and are the employees expected to pay taxes based on thevalue of those meals? If employees don’t eat at McDonald’s are they paid real money commisurate with the value of the benefit that the ones who eat at the restaurant are given?

    Duh
    How much do you think that extra piece of cheese was worth? As much as a ball point pen or a handful of paper clips which are “stolen” by employees in every company every day? I have never heard of an employee being fired for taking home such items. A wiser course of action would have been for the McDonald’s manager just to have had the employee pay for the cheese and possibly put a written reprimand in his employee file.

    Swarthmore Mom
    I started buying produce and eggs from local farmers’ markets a few years ago. I had forgotten how wonderful fresh tomatoes and strawberries could taste. Here in South Texas we’re also blessed with melons and citrus grown locally that are available in season and taste completely different than what’s available in supermarkets. I just wish there were food co-ops here, but alas.

  18. Duh:

    are you one of those greedy rich people stealing from the mouths of starving children?

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